Students urged to protect against meningitis risk

editorial image

New bank account, pots, pans, a cookbook and up-to-date laptop will surely feature on the checklist of local students heading off to university......but don’t forget your meningitis C vaccination…

Public Health officials at Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council are encouraging new university students to add getting a meningitis C booster to their ‘to do’ list before they head off to university.

New students are at increased risk of encountering the bacteria that causes meningitis because they are often living in busy halls of residence and are in close contact with other new students during fresher’s week.

Meningitis C is a bacterial infection that more commonly occurs in babies and young people in their mid to late teens and early twenties. It is spread by droplets or direct frequent and prolonged contact.

The infection doesn’t always have obvious symptoms and it can have fatal consequences or long term affects such as scarring, limb amputation, hearing loss, seizures and brain damage.

Jonathan Gribbin, Public Health consultant for Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Ideally new university students should make sure they have had the meningitis C booster before they arrive at university. For those who start the term without the booster they should still arrange to get it as soon as possible either through their university health centre or with their new GP.

“The vaccine is also important for students coming to study from abroad who are unable to get the vaccine at home. Again they should obtain it as soon as possible and will need to register with an NHS doctor to access this free, confidential service.”

This year saw a change to the timings of when the meningitis C booster is being offered. Babies normally get three doses. The new change means babies now get two doses with the third dose being given to young people aged 14 years. This means those currently in the slightly older age groups may have missed out on getting the booster dose.

Councillor Joyce Bosnjak, chairman of the Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board said:

“It’s a really busy time before going to university with so much to think about and plan, but helping to protect the health and yourself and others by getting a ‘men C’ booster should be high up on their ‘to do’ list. Obviously students themselves can have other things on their minds, but mums and dads can also play a role in helping make sure that they’ve have had their jabs.”

For more information on meningitis including vaccination and signs and symptoms, visit NHS Choices or call Meningitis Now, 24 hour helpline 0808 8010 388.

The MenC vaccinations have now been amended in the childhood immunisation schedule so babies receive two doses, instead of three, at 3 months and 12-13 months of age. The third dose is now administered at around 14 years of age, school years 9 or 10 in England